At The Water's Edge
I started writing 'At The Water's Edge' around the Easter of 2016. I was really ill with flu at the time, and started writing this at a moment when I was just about able to open my eyes! I recorded a rough idea of the verse and chorus, went back to bed and didn't do anything else to the song until the Autumn. This song is one of the ones of the album that I wrote for the band. I can't play this one by myself, the other parts that the band are playing are as as vital to the arrangement as my own. It's one of the funnest songs to play live for me. When I finished the last album, I knew I wanted to explore grooves much more on the next one - and this song does that. It's a song about empathy; about a refugee and her daughter stood on a beach somewhere wishing that the opposite shore could be a bit more understanding.
This song was always called 'Forsaken' until I had to name it for the release of the album. I changed the name because my composition tutor made a really interesting point about it. This song does have quite a political/protesting edge, and when you give a protest song a negative title, like 'Forsaken', - people are immediately turned off by it. Whereas, if you give a protest song an interesting, less prescriptive, title (like 'Strange Fruit', for example), people are more likely to let themselves be capticated by it.
Tim's House And Recording Sessions
I produced this album with Tim Goddard - a music production extraordinaire. With tracks that feature the full band, the general process was that we (the band) would track stuff in college with some amazing engineers (Frankie Harper and Jack Tremelling), and then I would hop on a train or two, and a bus, over to Burnley (where Tim lives) and we'd work on the production of the tracks, and add other things where necessary. I'd also record the vocal in his wardrobe (whilst making this album I discovered I love recording vocals in pitch black darkness). I was going back and forth to Tim's once or twice a month for nearly a year working on this album; I had a really great time.
We actually did two full band recording sessions on this song. I was determined, when we started making the album, to record everything live - including vocals. After we'd recorded this song I realised that it just wasn't practical. So, we ended up doing it again - and I'm very glad we did, because we got the take that you'll hear on the album.
You can hear 'At The Water's Edge' on my new album 'Throwing & Catching', when it's released on 21st November...
You can pre-order the album here
Demos And Rehearsal Tapes
Here are a selection of demos and rehearsal tapes; some of them are pretty rough indeed. One of the main issues I ran into when writing this song was it's structure. I couldn't decide what allowed the song to flow best. I recorded the song several times, each time with a different structure, so I could listen to them all and try and work out which was best; I've included a couple of them. The structure I ended up using is quite unusual, but it's definitely, I think, the best one I could have gone with.
Like 'Should I?', this track features choir of my mates. I'm not sure how many voices this one has in total (5 part harmony, doubled, with lots of people singing each part) - but it's a lot, around 60-70. Skip to 2:30 or 4:00 in the recording below to hear the track isolated.
John Metcalfe's music became an important influence on a couple of the tracks on 'Throwing & Catching'. He does this thing where he'll create the most amazing ambient texture, and completely immerse you in it, and then introduce the most incredible groove. You don't expect it, but it works so well and pushes the track forward. I once heard somebody say that in all forms of art you should 'create your mould and the break it'. I think this is, musically, a really cool way to do that. I've tried to use it in 'At The Water's Edge'.
Michael Hedges is such a big inspiration of mine that his influence will be found in a lot of my songs - 'At The Water's Edge', is a good example. Michael was a pioneer of unusual and creative guitar techniques, many of which I use in my guitar part in this song (for example, the ways I articulate harmonics, the ways I dampen strings during the 'riff-y' sections etc.) He was also a pioneer of using really unsusual tunings. The guitar tuning that I wrote, and play, 'At The Water's Edge' in is AEBCGC - so pretty unusual indeed, and tricky to tune to mid-set! I got through a lot of strings writing this one.